During the regular NFL season football fans wait all day for Sunday night to see Carrie Underwood (well, and the game too I suppose), but country music fans have been waiting three years for new material from the former American Idol champ.
Underwood has certainly celebrated a storybook career in country music, but her personal life is a fairy tale too (a five-year marriage with Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher and this February the couple celebrated the birth of their first child Isaiah).
And while her new album Storyteller at times aids in telling the tale of her happy life, it isn’t the entire scope of the album. And that’s a good thing, because Underwood fans long for her tales of regret, revenge and redemption, which this album has in spades.
Underwood kicks off the album with the booming, high energy track “Renegade Runaway” about a woman who can certainly hold her own. It’s Storyteller’s “Cowboy Cassanova.”
Since “Before He Cheats” Underwood has made a career out of the break-up and subsequent revenge song. This go around, she unleashes “Dirty Laundry” an ominous sounding track where the protagonist caught her now former honey cheating via a crumpled up shirt with the tell-tale signs of cheating in the corner of their bedroom. “Church Bells” is a banjo-driven song about a small town girl who finds a rich man, settles down and acclimates herself to the good life. Except the good life turns dark for the woman. Don’t worry, she gets her revenge in the end. “Choctaw County Affair” is a bluesy, groover and country foot stomper, about a sensational murder/trial involving a love triangle. Musically, it’s the most adventurous we’ve seen Underwood. Lyrically, I’d like to think Johnny Cash would approve of this one for its darkness.
Continuing the dark vibes, “Chaser” is a jilted love song about a guy looking at his woman, but thinking of another. He’s the kind of guy always trying to trade up and Underwood’s voice nails the pain that the woman feels. “Relapse” is a brutally honest song that uses the metaphor of an alcoholic to relay hooking up with an ex and the emotions, or should I say the nonemotions about doing so. “Mexico,” is an enticingly fun romp about outlaw lovers on the lam.
As aforementioned though, Storyteller has it’s sweet moments such as “Heartbeat” a slowed-down love song where she explains that while she’s proud to spend time in public with her man, there’s nothing better than getting away with him and “dancin’ to the rhythm of his heartbeat in the middle of nowhere. “Like I’ll Never Love You Again” is one which will make any guy jealous of Underwood’s hockey playing hubbie. “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” is a touching tune about finding what she never thought she needed, mainly a good man, and a newborn. These two events now fill her heart with love. Underwood later sings “The Girl You Think I Am” an ode to her dad and his unconditional love and support despite her perceived flaws.
Underwood hits her inspirational height on Storyteller with the lead single “Smoke Break,” which has been tearing up the charts since its release in August. It’s the type of song Underwood excels at, one where she tells the tales of characters who have their own burdens. She empathizes (without judgement) with their ways of coping, whether it be an occasional drink or a smoke to find some perspective and comfort.
Carrie Underwood has cemented herself as one of modern country’s leading ladies and vocalists. With Storyteller she adds another victory to her eventual Hall of Fame career. I’m just hoping we won’t have to wait another 150 Sunday nights for more new music.
Get Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller at iTunes by clicking on this happy album cover.